Welcome to Syllabus – a new column where we ask our favorite artists to recommend a book, an album, a movie, and a restaurant. This week: Lindsay, Mercy, and Daniel of beloved Texas emo trio Football, etc. whose great new 7″ EP Disappear will be released later this month via Count Your Lucky Stars Records.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
I think everyone should read Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. Fun Home is a graphic narrative. Not a novel. It’s a true story. Graphic memoir? Autobiographical comic book? Okay, whatever you call it, its great. Because Bechdel grew up at a funeral parlor (Get it— FUN(eral) HOME!), a lot about this book reminds me of the most fabulous television series Six Feet Under. But take away all of the parts where they talk to imaginary dead people and insert a lesbian coming of age story.
And get this— so many culturally important references that will make you the smartest kid at the party. The novel has references to and intertextuality with James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The book was made into an off-broadway musical and is slated to open on Broadway in 2015. Alison Bechdel created the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test is an evaluation of films (and other works) to determine gender bias. There is a rad band called Fun Home. Alison Bechdel wrote a second graphic memoir, Are You My Mother, AND she recently taught a class at University of Chicago. Get with it, read Fun Home if you haven’t. – Lindsay Minton
Welcome to the Dollhouse
This mid-90s Todd Solondz movie follows the suburban story of Dawn Weiner, a terribly uncool and angsty pre-teen who is rejected by both her peers and her family. Welcome to the Dollhouse is a bleak, dark comedy that will ring uncomfortable truths to anyone who has experienced the absolute horror and confusion of adolescent sexuality. Plus, it doesn’t have a happy ending, which suits me. – Mercy Harper
Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814
You’ve probably heard a lot of songs from this record, but if you haven’t listened to it from start to finish you’re robbing yourself of some amazing musical insights. This album broke hits and sales records in its day, but that’s not what’s interesting about it. What makes Rhythm Nation insane is that it accomplished those feats not only as a true LP (in the sense of being a comprehensive and considered effort rather than a smattering of songs), but as a concept album. And moreover, Rhythm Nation still sounds relevant—not only in the way in which it borrows from different genres, but also in its conceptual message about the interweaving of race, televised news, and popular music. – Mercy Harper
L.P. Steamers (Baltimore)
It’s typically customary to shine a light upon the little hidden gem of a restaurant in one’s own city. Sort of a “hey look what I found in my own backyard” sentiment. And of course, wanting to support the small businesses in your own community is always important. But alas…I live in Austin, Texas. The city I live in is awash with food bloggers and restaurant reviewers and top 10 lists of the best and worst and maybe’s and ok’s. It’s just too much, so I’ve decided to not write about any restaurant in Austin. You’ve all been here and eaten all the tacos, you know. So rather our story will center upon the city of Baltimore, MD.
This past August football, etc. had the supreme honor and pleasure of working with J. Robbins on our next record. Lucky for us, J. Robbins’ studio is located in Baltimore, which I think we all developed a strong crush on after spending a week there. Ok so fast -forward to the last day of recording. Time to celebrate right? So being in Baltimore and wanting to do right by the local culinary traditions it was only fitting to go out in search of some steamed blue crabs (vegan and vegetarian readers… um spoiler alert). Having spent exactly 8 hours in Baltimore last December I knew of a place that my wife and I had happened across. Located in the semi-run down neighborhood of Locust Point, is the affectionately named L.P. Steamers. Probably the only good reason to head to this particular neighborhood on the south end of Baltimore’s inner harbor. After arriving, we weren’t sure if it was open, as it appears appropriately dismal and derelict on the outside. Upon closer inspection though, we were in luck! They we’re open and not closed down after all. Greeted by the incredibly friendly staff we tucked into a booth and ordered a few pitchers of Natty-Bo (National Bohemian). It’s local, it’s watery, it’s smooth, and you can drink a ton of it and not be hungover the next day, nice! So now down to business, a quick inspection of the menu and we decided to order what amounted to a gigantic pile of steamed seafood, including many of the beloved blue crabs. Maybe it was the elation of having completed such an incredible recording experience, or perhaps the Natty Bo, or the excitement of our meal to come—which at that very moment was being steamed in giant kettles located right outside next to the sidewalk. But I will always remember sitting in that booth with the low hanging afternoon suns’ stale beams peeking through the dusty windows and feeling completely and 100% happy.
Now, I know what you are thinking…”WTF, I thought this was a restaurant review not some sort of meta-physical hyperbole.” And you’re right; it is a restaurant review. OK, so my little happiness bubble is suddenly burst and I am pulled back into the present: the aroma of sweet crab, melted butter, the salty and spicy old bay…it’s almost too much. Our server rolls an enormous piece of brown butcher paper over the tabletop and then proceeds to dump a giant pile of steaming hot crabs, clams, shrimp, and scallops onto the table. It was like we were in a Disney movie of some kind, and the evil but somehow good-natured pirate was dumping out his treasure chest—and we were allowed to take whatever we wanted!
The hope and the fantasy of what our experience at this restaurant would be became reality. The food was incredibly fresh and delicious, the portion was monolithic, the price was dubiously reasonable. It’s not often that a restaurant (or anything in life) is able to satisfy each and every component of a visitors’ fantasy. Somehow L.P. Steamers was able to make our blue crab fantasy a reality—and with ease, I might add. The entire experience of this place feels like a work of fiction. A place where the world’s crushing expectations melt away like sweet drawn butter and there is nothing but you and this moment that you created in your mind but now are somehow in the midst of actually experiencing. L.P. Steamers is as likely a run down hole in the south harbor of Baltimore as it is a figment of my own imagination. If you are a seafood fanatic or simply interested in seeing how much shit I am full of then next time you’re in Baltimore and you have a few hours to spare I challenge you to head to Locust Point and see for yourself. I would recommend going around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. – Daniel Hawkins
Pre-order Disappear here.